Omakase at Tojo’s Restaurant


Omakase, as is elaborately described in the menu at Tojo’s in Vancouver, is all about trust. Literally, it means ‘chef I am in your hands’, and nowhere is this truer and more desirable than Tojo’s. AG and I read countless reviews of the restaurant basically stating that one need not bother travelling to Tokyo for the finest sushi in the world; why not go to Tojo’s?

When considering ordering Omakase, there are two key questions that need be answered. First of all, do you trust Mr. Tojo? I did. AG, not so much. The second question is how much debt do you want to assume following the meal. The prices begin at $60 CAD and go up to no limit. Can you imagine ordering food without limits? I couldn’t. I chose the $80 version, trying not to sound too amateurish or too bold at the same time.

The menu describes a process where you then discuss your food likes and dislikes with the waiter, to properly customize the dishes you will receive from Mr. Tojo. Our waitress asked me one question, and one question only: Do you have any allergies? No. Good. That was it. I had to trust Mr. Tojo from here on.

Course 1: Raw appetizer

The first dish was quite exciting. The waitress brought it out with a big smile and told me that I was getting some kind of raw albacore tuna salad in a marinated soy sauce. It had different peppers and herbs mixed in as well. The appearance was not unlike that of raw gefilte fish, a fact I was delighted to share with AG, but the taste was fantastic. Delicate, savory, daring, and oh so raw. It looked a little like this dish from their website, but was a little different


Course 2: Cooked appetizer

A different waiter brought out the next course, which was also explained to me in sparse detail. I think it consisted of slices of lightly torched salmon perched over a mixture of shiso leaves and a few other wild greens, which topped a shredded salad of mushrooms, avocado, eggplant, and other uncharacterized items mixed in a creamy sauce. It was good. Very good. The shiso leaves have a strong taste that influenced all the other tastes, but once you are used to the flavour, it becomes very addctive.

Course 3: Cooked appetizer

With each subsequent dish, the explanations got shorter while the food grew apparently more elaborate. The next dish was titled as halibut cheek. Which it was. Many people do not consider the craniofacial components of fish as a savoury treat, but I have to say that fish cheek is wonderful. The texture is soft and buttery, kind of like, well, my cheeks. Just lightly cooked, and served with some other delicate greens in a complex and fantastic sauce. I think the sauce was a mixture of teriyaki sauce, fish sauce, and L-DOPA. Very exquisite.

Course 4: Cooked sushi

As usual, I was only offered a short explanation of what I was getting: Suntan tuna. It was basically three pieces of tuna wrapped in seaweed, then dipped in tempura batter and deep fried. The way it comes out, the inside is completely raw, while the outside, interacting with the crispy batter was more cooked. The pieces were cut like maki, and it was served with a sweet and tangy sauce. They were very nice, albeit not particularly substantial. I was a little concerned that this was the main course, and I was not going to be sated, but I was reassured that the main even was coming next …

Course 5: Sushi

When the main course was finally served to me, I gave an inquisitive look to the waiter, hoping to get the rundown on what I was about to eat. The waiter just snickered and walked off. Not quite the gut busting laugh of Mr. Tojo (pictured above), but definitely a chuckle of some kind. Well, I trusted Mr. Tojo. It was time to put that trust in place. Sadly, I have no idea what the four pieces of maki and two pieces of nigiri really were. I presume they were taken from the regular menu, but am not really sure. Mr. Tojo’s maki is quite extraordinary. For example, AG ordered a Great Canadian roll, which included lobster, asparagus, and smoked salmon. Suffice to say that the sushi was vivid, unpredictable, and wonderfully syngergistic. One of the nigiri may have been sablefish, and another may have been a toro that the waitress told us is only availabe a few times a year. Who’s to say. It was phenomenal.

Epilogue: Dessert

Nothing too fancy here. A nice scoop of mango ice cream, which AG got as well on the house, with a few tasty garnishes.

Overall the dining experience was unlike anything I’ve ever had. Between eating outside with a view of downtown Vancouver and the mountains behind it, and eating foods I have never had before, or combinations of foods that were novel to me, it was a most wonderful way to spend a Saturday night in Vancouver. But don’t take my word for it. Just trust Mr. Tojo.

Verdict – Delicious

UPDATE:  Pictures and better descriptions of some items at this here fine blog

7 Responses to “Omakase at Tojo’s Restaurant”

  • Yeah, but you would haver said that to “Course 3: Bottlecap sushi”

  • Nah, this was better than that sub-par pseudo sushi they serve at Fukin-n-pukin’ in Crackline.

  • The Uncanny Canadian

    It is already predetermined that the bottlecap sushi at Tojo’s or Fugakyu is exquisite, whereas it just isn’t quite as good at Tsunami or Mr. Sushi. The bottlecap sushi at Sushi Express is excrementive.

  • Why does AG not trust Mr. Tojo? We trust Mr. Tojo because he’s good to our peeps and his food is tasty.

  • AG is a philistine. She deserves to be force fed at Cheesecake Factory every night until she BEGS for Vung Tau II.

  • Things Pinko doesn’t know:

    1. AG never begs. A woman should never have to beg. It only serves the patriarchy. See AG’s post about her new theme song on RoD to better understand.
    2. AG just refuses to eat when she is done or it is gross. See UC for clarification and support of this claim.
    3. AG will never, never beg for Vietnamese food. That will NEVER NEVER happen. AG ate at Pho Lemongrass once. That was enough for this lifetime.
    4. UC likes TCF, AG does not. So eat it, unkosher cobag!
    5. UC has food tales from NYC over the weekend that he is hiding! Get ’em…
    6. You have no proof that I am a philistine. (And that’s Dr. Philistine to you, Punk!) What makes you the unsmug and so intelligent connoisseur of food and libations?

  • Who the hell are L and V? I’ll take the ass kickin’ from here.

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